Public health emergencies such as infectious disease, bioterrorism, or natural disasters require a coordinated response at the local, national, and international levels. RAND research improves the capability of public health systems to anticipate and prepare for such emergencies, by providing a robust set of standardized response measures, tabletop exercises, and toolkits; using GIS technology for planning; and identifying best practices and lessons learned from multiagency exercises.
Having dealt with outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu and other communicable diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and H1N1 swine flu in 2009, health officials are now far better prepared to detect new diseases early and react quickly to monitor and contain their spread.
Although official after-action reports are still being compiled, it looks like Boston's first responders and hospitals delivered under difficult circumstances, writes Arthur Kellermann.
In this fiscally uncertain climate, we should continue to leverage the dual-use benefit of bioterrorism investments by building and maintaining those routine (but essential) public health capabilities that can also be used in response to a variety of public health emergencies.
Given the broad range of threats facing the United States, including those related to extreme weather, it is imperative that monies invested in enhancing health security be well spent, writes Shoshana Shelton.
Given the recent spate of highly publicized disasters, why don't more Americans pay attention to the advice of public health officials? The messages they are getting are largely based on unverified assumptions, not hard evidence. Equally concerning, these assumptions may inadvertently hinder preparedness.
To assure the health security of the United States, we must be capable of stopping anything a terrorist or Mother Nature might throw at us. Wholesale cuts to public health are taking us farther from that goal, write Art Kellermann and Melinda Moore.
Immunization remains the best and first line of defense against serious infectious illness. This year's seasonal flu shot incorporates vaccine for H1N1. It's safe, and it's vitally important to get it, write Art Kellermann and Katherine Harris.
The recent foiled plot by a naturalized citizen to bomb Washington-area metro stations has national counterterrorism officials warning that the U.S. faces not only risks from abroad, but also homegrown terrorism, write John S. Hollywood and Kevin J. Strom.
In a world where viruses travel as fast as jets, it becomes important for governments to share timely information and accelerate the production and delivery of vaccines, writes Melinda Moore.
In his inaugural address, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu clearly accepted his dual challenge: rebuild a city that welcomes its still-displaced residents, and make long-needed changes to attract newcomers as well, writes Melissa Flournoy.
President Obama's nominee to lead the TSA said he would like U.S. airport screening to more closely resemble Israel's. Perhaps attention is turning to what really matters about the attempted Northwest bombing: what it can teach us about aviation security, write Brian Michael Jenkins, Bruce Butterworth and Cathal Flynn.
The revelation of the arrest in October of Colleen Renee LaRose, who had adopted the pathetically predictable nom de guerre Jihad Jane, once again focuses national attention on homegrown terrorism. But while worrisome, this threat needs to be kept in perspective, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
High-ranking officials in Washington tell Americans that the threat from terrorists—principally self-radicalized homegrown terrorists—is high. Do terrorists pose a threat to Los Angeles, and if so, what should ordinary citizens do? asks Brian Michael Jenkins.
America's tolerance for terrorism cannot be zero. Although we obviously aim to do as much as possible, preventing every attack is an unattainable goal. The country needs to steel itself for the near-certainty that there will at some point be another major strike on U.S. territory, writes Gregory F. Treverton.
The latest disaster to befall Haiti creates the opportunity to combine bipartisan accord on Haiti in Washington with keen and perhaps sustained American public interest, writes James Dobbins.
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, many people in the Gulf Coast region are still "just surviving," struggling with the economic devastation and the physical and psychological toll of these kinds of disasters, write Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta.
The federal government has spent about $140 billion responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Gulf Coast now needs more money for hurricane and flood protection and for coastal restoration. But we still haven't properly evaluated whether our money was spent wisely, writes Melissa Flournoy.
In the rush of constant news updates on swine flu, we must recognize that controlling the spread of this disease is not simply a health concern but also one of national security. And in today's globalized world, the spread of swine flu has become not just a U.S. national security threat but every country's national security threat, writes Melinda Moore.
In his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama pledged to rebuild the Gulf Coast — one of the country's most wounded, yet economically strategic, regions. To keep this laudable promise, he will need to make a sustained commitment not only to a national disaster recovery plan, but also a comprehensive economic development strategy for the Gulf Coast, writes Melissa Flournoy.
Too often we talk only about the ongoing challenges facing education, health care, transportation and economic development across the Gulf South — Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.... We need to determine new ways to work together across state lines to focus on solutions that will benefit the entire region, writes Melissa Flournoy.